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The request came to me to write on a subject in the California issue of Beacon Lights. I am not from California but ever since I have been in the army California has been the scene of my labors. Many Sundays were spent in Redlands and a few in Bellflower. It was difficult for me to decide on a subject to write on, the above subject finally occurred to me so I will tell you about life in the army. My experiences since being in the army are about the easiest to write on and I truly hope they will be of interest to all our Beacon Lights readers.

Most of our boys who are now in the service will agree with me first of all that we get lonesome away from home, sweet home, our own church and all our friends. I have never been away from home for such a long time in all my life and never before realized what home meant until having been away for a while. Now that it is 13 months since my departure I’m getting pretty well used to it. The worst part for me was the basic training the first 3 months and getting used to army life in general. It was so difficult those first months and the longing to return home was strong. After the first months were over I didn’t mind it so much.

A year ago on September 8, farewells were said in Grand Rapids and we were bound for Camp Grant, Illinois. We arrived there in a heavy down-pour. The next few days were very confusing, we were given aptitude tests, a couple of shots in the arm and our army clothing and some equipment were issued to us. Somehow we got through all of this but I don’t know how. The following Friday on the 11th we were notified that we would leave Camp Grant that afternoon at 4:30. At noon I called home and told mother I was leaving, that my destination was unknown but I’d write as soon as I arrived, wherever that might be.

Upon boarding the train in camp, I noticed right away that it was a Pullman and realized I had a long trip ahead of me. In one way it was a nice trip but in another way it was different. None of us knew where we were going. Some said Florida, others Washington and still others said California. Yes, California! When the train stopped and we were allowed to get off we were in Camp Callan near San Diego. The camp was on the shore of the great Pacific Ocean. A beautiful scene, as I noticed the next morning after the fog had cleared. It was the first time I had seen the Pacific.

At Camp Callan I went through my basic training which lasted about ten weeks. It was hard, rugged training and I was glad when it was over. After 10 weeks most of the boys I had trained with were transferred to Camp Haan, California for further training. A few of us remained behind another month, over Christmas and New Year. Then we four were also transferred to Camp Haan but with another outfit, only the boys I came with were known to me. In another month, however, I was pretty well acquainted and with some pretty sensible fellows. Our next move was to Camp Irvin in the desert about 125 miles from Camp Haan, another ten weeks of training and of firing our heavy anti-aircraft guns and machine guns at aerial targets. Then back to Camp Haan a week before Easter.

While out in the desert I met James Offringa and chummed with him on our off time. He was also from Camp Haan but with another battalion. We talked about church and he said he had been spending his free Sundays in Redlands while at Camp Haan. We immediately planned to go to Redlands together when we returned from maneuvers. About the same time my mail contained a letter from Harriet Schipper, originally from Grand Rapids but now in Redlands. She had seen my name and address in a Fuller Avenue church bulletin and had invited me to spend a Sunday in Redlands, so the very first Sunday I was back in Camp Haan I ventured out to spend the day there. It was Easter Sunday. In the evening service I heard Rev. Vos and on the whole the day was a very enjoyable one. Everybody I met was friendly and invited me to come and visit them. Since then my visits there have been frequent and each time is more enjoyable than the time before.

When Rev. Hoeksema was there this summer I made a special effort to see and hear him. It happened that I could hear him twice in Bellflower and once in Redlands. It seemed good to talk with him and hear his sermons once again.

In May I had a seven-day furlough but was allowed to go only as far as Denver, Colorado. I wired my parents and girlfriend to come to Denver, there we met and spent three days together. I was so glad to see them once again. The time passed altogether too swiftly. It would have been nicer to have had more time and be able to go all the way home but we had to be satisfied to meet each other half way. They boarded the train just five minutes before I had to take the west-bound train back to California. By that time I had been in the army almost nine months and was getting used to army life in general. Spending Sundays in Redlands among my own people made it more pleasant. It makes a world of difference if a fellow, far from home, has a place to go on his time off. Redlands is only 20 miles away and it doesn’t take long to get there.

All in all, army life isn’t so bad; it’s what a fellow makes it. It’s very easy to go astray and temptations are all around us but as long as we know that the Lord is always near us wherever we are we have nothing to fear. My only comfort is that I belong to my faithful Saviour, Jesus Christ.

The book of Proverbs was written by King Solomon to his young adult son. Solomon’s purpose in writing Proverbs was “that the generation to come might know them [God’s wonderful works]…that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments” (Ps. 78:6–7). Throughout the book, Solomon […]

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The Christian is placed in many different circumstances while on this earth. Some are characterized by hardships and trials, and others are full of joy and peace. How should the Christian respond? Throughout the Bible there are numerous times where God’s people sang in response to their various circumstances. Singing in response to God’s ordering […]

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The group of churches that John writes to in this trio of epistles had recently experienced a split because of doctrinal controversy. We do not know the exact content of the error that these false teachers were spreading, but it is apparent from John’s writing that their teaching somehow denied the truth of the incarnation—that […]

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Jael: An Example of Christian Warfare

This article was originally presented as a speech at a Protestant Reformed mini convention held at Quaker Haven Camp in August 2021. Jael lived during the era of the judges. Deborah the prophetess was the judge who served Israel at the time of Jael. During this time, the Canaanites under the rule of king Jabin […]

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Indiana Mini Convention Review 2021

One of this year’s “mini conventions” was hosted by Grace and Grandville Protestant Reformed Churches at Quaker Haven Camp. Located just over two hours away in northern Indiana, the camp was a perfect fit for the 120 kids and 15 chaperones who attended. A total of twelve different churches were represented: Byron Center, Faith, First […]

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Editorial, November 2021: Catechism Season

At the point that this edition of Beacon Lights arrives in the homes of our subscribers, most young people in the Protestant Reformed Churches will have been sitting under the catechism instruction of their pastor or elders for more than a month. If our readers are honest, that observation probably comes with a (quiet) sigh […]

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